Southend-based company Olympus KeyMed have joined forces with Livability to offer work experience to disabled people.
The first beneficiary, wheelchair-user Chris Yeates from Canvey Island, took part in a week-long work experience programme that started on 16 September. He joined various departments around the company and gained experience in areas such as customer service, administration, catering and marketing.
Olympus KeyMed is a leading UK healthcare and consumer electronics company and a long-standing supporter of Livability. The work experience took place at their Southend facility with Chris shadowing staff and getting hands-on work experience.
KeyMed plans to next offer more work experience placements to some of the residents of one of Livability’s Southend care home, Dolphin Court. Olympus KeyMed is based at KeyMed House, Stock Road, Southend-on-Sea.
Paul Stevens, Director of Technical Services at Olympus KeyMed says: “We are delighted to collaborate with Livability on this project. We are always keen to promote diversity and inclusion within our workforce. Some employers might still be reluctant to employ people with disabilities and we want to challenge any remaining prejudices. Giving work experience to disabled people who live in or around Southend is also a way for us to further support our local community. “
Chris Yeates says: “I was really looking forward to doing this week of work experience. I gained a better understanding of how a large company such as Olympus Keymed is run and tried a variety of roles and developed my skills further. This will help me in my job search and it will allow me to gain more confidence. I believe it is really important for employers in general to do more to open the workplace to people with disabilities and to understand the benefits of diversity and inclusivity. Projects such as this one can make a real difference.”
The work experience initiative is part of Livability’s LET ME WORK and LET ME IN campaigns. With LET ME WORK the charity is calling for employers to take on a more pro-active approach and help widen access to employment for people with disabilities. LET ME IN is an umbrella campaign that wants to remove the barriers disabled people can face when trying to access housing, care, education, employment, leisure activities or simply when trying to integrate within their local community.
When Livability surveyed the general public earlier this year on perceptions of employment and disability, results showed that 62% of the respondents cited employers’ attitudes as the main barrier to employment, only 1% thought that a disabled person’s ability to do a job could prove problematic. The findings also revealed that almost half of those that took part in the survey claimed they had never worked with anyone with a disability.
Current employment statistics show that disabled people are far less likely to be in employment than their non-disabled peers. The employment rate of disabled people was 48.8% compared with 77.5% for non-disabled people in 2011. Only 7.5% of people with learning disability are in paid employment in England.
For more information on the LET ME WORK campaign visit www.livability.org.uk/letmework